There’s no nicer guy on the planet than my friend Lee Child. He’s kind, amusing, normal. What’s not to like?
You probably feel the same. He’s smiling and blue-eyed friendly in all those author photos, right? What we see is what we get with Lee Child:
So I asked him if he wanted to be Revealed to Licensed to Thrill readers when his latest book was released. I figured we’d have a little fun, be a bit irreverent, maybe share some things about one of the world’s most beloved authors you didn’t already know.
I wasn’t nervous at all at first. That was dumb. Because I forgot one of Kim Otto’s first rules: You never see the bullet that gets you.
The first unheeded warning was when Lee sent me his self-portrait before our chat:
As a person who’s vertically challenged, I peered up through my binoculars and covered the most important point first.
Diane Capri: Someone recently described you as a lanky praying mantis. How tall are you, anyway? Ever wish you were shorter? I mean, don’t you get light-headed at that altitude?
Lee Child: I’m about ten inches tall when I’m lying down. About 6-4 when I’m standing up. Very thin, no matter how much I eat. I like being tall. Who wouldn’t? There are many completely unearned advantages. Like having an English accent – in America that’s 20 unearned IQ points, right there.
Diane Capri: Readers want to know some personal details about you that Charlie Rose didn’t ask. Let’s start with a few of those. Here’s an easy one. You were chewing gum when I saw you last in NYC and not hanging around the smoking sections. Have you quit smoking?
Lee Child: No, I’ll never quit smoking. I enjoy it. It’s one of my main pleasures in life. Every New Year I make the same resolution – keep on smoking.
Diane Capri: You know Kim Otto is hunting for Reacher in Don’t Know Jack, and she’s more than a little worried that she might actually find him before she’s ready. She worries about Reacher’s facility for, um, solving problems. Your fans write, warning me not to disrespect Reacher because he’s one of the good guys. Clearly, Jack Reacher’s A Wanted Man — in more ways than one. That’s got to make you somewhat, well, let’s call it pleased. How does all this attention affect your life? Does your wife, Jane, still make you take out the trash and handle the broken toilets like a normal husband?
Lee Child: Oh, sure. I haul trash and fix things like any guy. I’m a qualified electrician, from backstage jobs in the theater. Also a qualified firefighter, for the same reason. Away from the hoopla, I live a completely normal life.
Diane Capri: Um, okay, thanks for sending along that picture of where you live….It fascinates me that your daughter, Ruth, has an amazing facility for languages. Did she inherit that from her parents? How many languages can she speak fluently? And what kind of work does one do with that talent, anyway?
Lee Child: Ruth speaks most of the European languages, and if there’s one she doesn’t, just wait a day or two until she masters it. It didn’t come from me or Jane. From my mother, possibly. Maybe it’s one of those things that skips a generation. My mother had a similar talent. Ruth works at NYC’s famous Gay and Lesbian Center, dealing with people who don’t speak English so good. She can do sign language too. And sign language for the blind.
Diane Capri: Like most writers, you read widely and love books. It’s astonishing that our Florida crime writers’ patron saint, Travis McGee, remained undiscovered to you until the mid-1990s, long after John D. McDonald died. Not surprising that you’re a fan and McGee has influenced your work, though. When you created Reacher, you avoided duplicating character traits that contemporary crime writers had already developed, but like you and McGee, Reacher is a tall dude. Does Reacher share any of McGee’s other traits? Do you?
Lee Child: Not really. McGee was pretty sure of himself. Reacher is professionally, as am I, but personally we’re a lot more diffident than old Travis. No grand pronouncements for either of us.
Diane Capri: We’re all looking forward to reading A Wanted Man, which just opened to raves from readers and critics and at the top of the best seller lists. This is Reacher’s 17th chance to get his butt kicked. Is that gonna happen?
Lee Child: He has a busted nose in this one, carried over from the last one. (Well, not the last one, which was a prequel. The one before.) It was a challenge not to write anything about smells. Normally I’m a five-senses-all-the-time writer.
Diane Capri: Many readers have already devoured A Wanted Man and wait hungrily for Reacher #18. They want to put the title on their wish lists. What is it?
Lee Child: It’s called “Never Go Back” – because Reacher goes back to his old unit HQ and falls into a world of trouble.
Diane Capri: Well, sure. Trouble always finds Reacher. The other thing we’re looking forward to is the new film titled simply Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise. Cruise fans are swooning already; some Child fans are a bit less ecstatic. You’ve seen the film and loved it. Why?
Lee Child: It’s a fast, hard movie, and Cruise nails it dead on. How? Because he’s a great actor. They do that stuff for a living. The rest of the cast is spectacular too. Altogether awesome. Plus it has a better car scene than Bullitt.
Diane Capri: When we put Reacher on trial for murder at the very first ThrillerFest, the still-to-be-revealed Kim Otto took Reacher on, sort of. Otto made darn sure everything went according to the law and Reacher still got off. But only because he cheated. Otto will be smarter next time they meet. Is Reacher worried?
Lee Child: Reacher didn’t cheat. It was jury nullification, pure and simple, because of his charm. Sure, he said with a smile, I killed the guy. Not guilty!
Diane Capri: Um, that’s a little unnerving, actually….For the first time ever, you’re headed to my summer town. I feel a bit like Kim Otto. She knows Reacher is watching her, and it’s a little creepy and she’s not all that thrilled about it. Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing you, but what brings you to Northern Michigan? Tell me straight. Are you stalking me?
Lee Child: Yes. Fortunately for me there’s a great author event there, for cover. Be afraid.
He said that with a smile.
Remember to enter our contest for a chance to win autographed copies of A Wanted Man and Don’t Know Jack. Enter as often as you like. Click Here: WIN! DON’T KNOW JACK & A WANTED MAN BETTER TOGETHER
Fabulous reveal, Diane! Who knew Lee was so funny! And scary. And charming. I’m going to have to catch up with the books before the movie comes out. You all may make a thriller fan out of me yet! Plus I am terrified of praying mantises, so don’t want to anger one. 🙂
Lee, congrats on the new release and the film! I can’t imagine how exciting it must be to see your creation come to life on the big screen. Cruise is a great actor and always nails the action scenes, he’s just…well…short.
Glad you liked it, Shannon. I’ve never understood why mystery/thriller writers are funny, but it seems to be a job requirement! The movie sounds great. Can’t wait to see it. Thanks for reading!
Terrific post, you two. I recall where that “lanky praying mantis” bit came from. 😉
If Lee needs a chaperone or bodyguard at the Hollywood premiere, I’ll be happy to lend my services. Looking forward to his latest book, and yours Diane, as well as the film.
Thanks, August! I doubt he’ll need a bodyguard, but I might! 😀
What a stellar interview Diane! And may I congratulate Lee Child on Jack Reacher’s sixteenth adventure. I always wondered about the atmosphere at 6’4″. Thanks for that little tidbit of information. From the picture above, it sure looks like Mr. Child enjoys a minimalistic lifestyle. I can see how that would help germinate the stealth-like characterization of all those Reacher novels. Thanks for showing us another side of the real you Lee. And thank you Diane. I can see how you and Lee make a great team! 🙂
Thanks for the kind words, Karen, and for leaving such a lovely comment, as always. Glad you enjoyed it!
What a great review. Totally brings out both of your senses of humor. Fascinating about his daughter and liked hearing his take on the Tom Cruise movie.
Thanks for reading, Karla. I agree on all counts. I’d love to be able to speak all those languages, wouldn’t you? 🙂
Hi Diane. Great interview of the original “reacher” himself. He always has one suprise up his sleeve, like that living room, that’s wild. And that picture of him as a cop? I laughed, and spotted him long before I recognized Tom!
I’m dying to read A Wanted Man, but I’m forcing myself to finish at least some of the giant queue of books on my nook before I buy anything else.
Glad you enjoyed the Reveal, Nigel. Lee’s an easy interview because he’s had so much practice. I’m a little worried about that living room–looks like he might be on the lam, hmmmm? 😀
Great reveal, Diane. I’m looking forward to reading the books and watching the movie. Um, jury nullification sounds a bit sinister. Did any of the jury make it out alive? (I’d be careful, Kim, um Diane, Reacher’s in Michigan!)
Exactly, Lynette! I felt the very same way! 😀
Fun interview! I really need to read a Reacher book – as well as the follow-on to Don’t Know Jack. Thanks for revealing Mr. Child to us!
Glad you enjoyed the Reveal, Jenn! Thanks for reading!
You know that I had never heard of Lee Child or Jack Reacher before I met you, Diane. I know – I was living under a rock. But, I have since read The Killing Floor and loved it. I’m a little late to the game (and the backlog for these books at the library isn’t cool!), but thankfully my mother is bringing me her under-the-stairs stash of Reacher books. But I’d love his new one!!! (And yours too. Anyone who thinks they can take on Reacher and win is someone I want to meet.)
I actually love that about you, Lisa! 😀 Glad you enjoyed Killing Floor and it’s follow up, Don’t Know Jack! (And I still think it’s funny that your mother kept her Reacher stash under the stairs — where does she keep her copies of 50 Shades, hmmmmm? 😀 )
hahaha – I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know. 😛
Wonderful interview, Diane! I loved getting to know Lee a little bit. Great sense of humor. 🙂
Lee – Thanks for all the great reads. I love Reacher’s character. Congrats on the latest release and the movie! Can’t wait to read and watch. 🙂
Thanks, Rhonda, for stopping by and glad you enjoyed the Reveal!
Aww, I am so totally smitten with both of you! What a fun interview and I like the pics he sent to you. Especially the movie still. Any writer that can get themselves a cameo has to be cool, right? Because of you I’m now a Reacher fan, thank you!
I love this, Tameri! It isn’t often I’m able to send a new fan Reacher’s way! 😀
You guys know how to give good interview. 😉 Every moment was entertaining! The two of you play off each other soo well. 😀 Be afraid, Diane. Be very afraid. Hehe. I think I may become a Reacher fan because of this.
You like being afraid, do you Debra? Hmmmm? 😉
Aw, what a fun, interesting reveal, Diane! I love Lee’s self-portrait! Super cool! And his line about being ten inches tall when lying down! Haha! Isn’t that something that his daughter speaks all those languages? And it’s mind boggling how those kind of talents will skip a generation!
Now to enter the contest again!
He’s quite the comedian, Lynn. Last night at his talk at the National Writer’s Series in Traverse City, MI, he kept the audience laughing for two hours!
Super fun and clever interview, Diane! You two make a great stand-up team!
Thanks, Alicia! Maybe if this writing thing doesn’t work out, we can be the next Abbott and Costello, hmm? 😀
Diane, great interview !
It’s funny because I finished to read “The affair” 10 minutes ago and it was the first Lee Child book I ever read but I wanted to know more about Lee or Jim and I spot you!
I am right now up North Michigan too and I am glad to read how much fun you both have !
You did wonderful !
Thank you, Ewa! I’m glad you’re now a Lee Child fan, like the rest of us and I hope you’ll be a Diane Capri fan soon, too! Where in North Michigan are you?
I am sorry i didn’t repy right away. I have been in Atlanta in our vacation home. I made my Husband read Jack Reacher and we are taking for our there week vacation the last Lee Child boks . When i will be done with Jack I will read every book you wrote. I am Polish BTW and I love to read. Thank you , Diane . I am sure I will be your big fan !
Did Lee Child really say ‘dealing with people who don’t speak English so good’ instead of ‘dealing with people who don’t speak English so well’? Perhaps he was being ironic…or perhaps that’s what editors are for? lol
Either way, I’m a big fan and will have to check out Diane’s books now.
Nice question, Edward! He did, indeed, say that — but he was joking. Glad you enjoyed it!